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How to improve provider wellness with better usability

It’s time for the health IT industry to step up and do more to reduce the cognitive burdens from electronic health records (EHRs). We’ve reached the saturation point, and clinicians can no longer adjust and adapt to less-than-optimal solutions.

In a recent article for Becker’s Hospital Review, I share the four ways the health IT industry can improve provider wellness, including:

  1. Acknowledge how health IT impacts provider wellness.The demands of an increasingly complex healthcare environment and elevated requirements related to health IT use are affecting providers every day. Recent studies highlight the many causes of provider burnout and the impact it can have on patients and clinicians alike.
  2. Understand the costs of clinicians adapting to less-than-ideal health IT. What is often not acknowledged is that adapting to EHRs that aren’t optimal comes at a cost. Safety and decision making suffer, as well as the emotional and physical well-being of users.
  3. Follow principles from the science of usability. Scientific evidence – such as processing fluency, readability and cognitive tax – should guide health IT usability decisions. Too often we ignore this knowledge, albeit with the best of intentions.
  4. Design with a focus on reducing the clinician’s cognitive load. At Allscripts, we conducted research across our client base to learn more about their root goals in using health IT. We now know if we can adjust our products to free our clients to process and act on what is most important, it will reduce their cognitive load and improve their experience.

The days of relying on clinicians to adapt to an increasingly complex healthcare system to deliver safe, high quality care – without experiencing a degree of burnout – have come and gone. We must all take a hard look at where we can do better.

Creating platforms that really work for clinicians

User-centered design is necessary to help create the solutions that relieve clinician fatigue, enable access to key data and improve quality of care. Gareth Thomas, CCIO at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust (United Kingdom), had some great insights about these principles at work in the clinical setting. You can listen to more of my conversation with him in a recent podcast.

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